When I completed my secondary academic career in the summer, I no longer felt like myself. I'd become someone different. Throughout Sixth Form, I had worked super hard for fear of immediate and irretrievable failure. I was in desperate need of a break, but I didn't want to stray out of my comfort zone...
When the time finally came to the end of my A-Levels, I dragged myself past the finish line. I had lost weight, become increasingly anxious, and generally fallen out of touch with normal routine. And yet, despite the promise of freedom the future held, it was with dread that I considered the long summer ahead. Along with three friends, I was due to travel across Europe.
For the past three months, my living situation had consisted of a dimly lit room awash with recycled air, highlighters and post-it notes, whilst my social skills and willingness to leave the cocoon of home had taken serious blows in the face of ambition. With my house and family were my comfort and safety. When a friend suggested incorporating a three day hike into our Slovenia to Triglav Seven Lake Valley schedule, the final seeds of panic were sown.
I am not only a self confessed comfort addict, but also a grade A Control Freak. The prospect of trekking into the wilderness entirely at the mercy of a friend's map reading skills was truly terrifying.
We would begin the walk at Slovenia’s Lake Bohinj, ascend into the mountains for one night, and return to normal heights on day three. According to the map, we would scramble up steep hill for around forty five minutes, after which time the route would flatten for a further 4 hours. Around 1.5 hours in, we were informed by surprised descenders that there was a significant ascent still to make. When we asked the next set of walkers (notably also traveling downhill) when we might expect to arrive at our destination, we received sorry smiles and slightly overenthusiastic well wishing.
Finally, when we were told by two twenty years olds that we “hadn’t even got to the worst part yet”. It was too late to head back down; at that stage we’d been walking for 3 hours, and the accommodation for the next two nights was at the top of this seemingly vertical rock face. Although we still had many hours of light ahead of us and every hundred metres or so were reminded by flecks of paint that this was indeed the correct path, the sense of uncertainty forged by the climb quickly supplied light and water to the panic seed sowed so many weeks before.
I would, in 2 days time, return from the top of the climb as a changed teen. No one could have convinced me then that this would be the case: that in 4 hours time, we really would arrive in Triglav's Seven Lake Valley.
When I finally saw the hut we were staying in, I experienced the purest sense of achievement. The evening before our descent, I sat with friends in a mountain meadow, and nothing would ever quite feel the same again. Nothing can really parallel the pleasure of this kind of simplicity – says the girl who thrives on comfort. When all you have to do in a day is wake, eat, walk, and sit, the worries of a contemporary world don’t matter so much. For the first time in months, I simply sat, watched, and smiled.
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